In Australia, assault is the leading preventable cause of death, (traumatic) brain injury (TBI), and mental health problems, particularly amongst women/vulnerable populations.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the incidence rate of assault. Our vision for the next five years is to develop a novel integrative neuroscience research program to characterise, predict and treat mental health deficits in assault victims that have sustained TBI. It is expected that this information will guide the development of novel personalised treatment plans and prediction models and by doing so it will inform policy and practice to enhance the mental health outcomes of people living with TBI.


Karen Caeyenberghs
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Jade Guarnera
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Honey Baseri
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Study focus

Track the course of their mental health trajectories and pathophysiological mechanisms in assault victims with traumatic brain injury.

Sampling frame

Assault patients will undergo assessments at 5 time points during the acute, subacute (2 weeks, 1, 3 months), and chronic periods.

Data access

The data is not publicly available.

Time period

2021 - 2025

Original sample size





Brain MRI data will be acquired in the Metropolitan Melbourne participants, to examine the temporal and spatial profile of neuropathological mechanisms related to mental health. Imaging will be performed on a dedicated research 3-Tesla Siemens Prisma MRI scanner located at The Florey Institute in Melbourne.


We will extract clinical characteristics of the participants from the participant’s medical file (after informed consent) using the medical records of the hospitals.


In future study

Ethics approvals or requirements

Yes, high-risk ethics application (ethics committee St Vincent’s Hospital)


Wave Year / Period Age (mean, range) Eligible sample
1 Acute – shortly after injury TBC 250
2 Subacute – 2 weeks after injury TBC TBC
3 Subacute – 1 month after injury TBC TBC
4 Subacute – 3 months after injury TBC TBC
5 Chronic – 12 months after injury TBC TBC
6 Chronic – 18 months after injury TBC TBC

Key references

Juan F Domínguez D, Johnny Truong, Alex Burmester, Hamed Akhlaghi, Julian Stella, Nick Rushworth, and Karen Caeyenberghs. Effects of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic on assault-related traumatic brain injury in Melbourne, Australia: a retrospective study. Special issue Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, minor revision will be submitted Monday 28th of November.

Primary institution

Collaborating institutions

Major funding sources


Cohort Representative

Prof Karen Caeyenberghs


School of Psychology, Deakin University
221 Burwood Highway
Burwood VIC 3125